St Petersburg Philarmonic Orchestra
Founded in 1882, the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra is the oldest in Russia. Its concerts, initially given for Tsar Alexander III and his court, gradually came to attract the great European composers (Strauss conducted a series of concerts in 1912).
The Revolution of 1917 resulted in its being transformed into a state orchestra, which merged with the Petrograd Philharmonic Orchestra. This was followed almost immediately by numerous international tours with prestigious conductors (Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter, Felix Weingartner) and the first performances of works like Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and the symphonies of Shostakovich.
A turning point in its history came in 1938 when Evgeny Mravinsky was appointed Music Director, a post he was to occupy for fifty years. It was during his reign that the orchestra truly gained its international reputation, notably for its interpretations of the Russian repertoire.
He was succeeded in 1988 by Yuri Temirkanov, who has organised magnificent thematic cycles devoted notably to Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev. Among the orchestra’s engagements over the past few seasons, particular mention should be made of the opening concert of the season at Carnegie Hall, an extended tour of Russia, the premiere of Penderecki’s Polish Requiem, symphonies by Slonimsky and Tishchenko, and a new symphony by Segerstam, the Russian premiere of Grechaninov’s Symphony no.5, and numerous concerts as part of the France-Russia Year in 2010.
More recently, the orchestra has given the first performances in Russia of Nono’s Il canto sospeso, Korngold’s Der Schneemann, and Obukhov’s The Third and Last Covenant.